Diana is a Roman goddess of hunting, the moon, fertility and childbirth. She had a unique personality, interesting family history and represented several important aspects of people’s lives. Because of these facts, she was respected by the ancient Romans. This paper will examine and analyze the stories of Diana, her personality, symbols and features of her cult, and rituals surrounding the figure.
First of all, it is essential to define who Diana was and what exactly she personified. According to historians, she was the goddess of the moon, hunting, wildlife, childbirth and fertility (Green 200). She was important for Romans because these aspects played a significant role in their lives. Hunters were respected because they provided food for the community and often acted as protectors of common people. That is why Diana was also viewed as the patron of slaves who could seek sanctuary and protection in her temples (Green 186).
Fertility was also very important for people because they did not have any technological or medical means that could effectively resolve problems of pregnancy and childbirth back then. Therefore, those women who wanted to get pregnant and give birth to healthy children, rich and poor alike, paid their respect to the goddess. All of these facts made Diana extremely popular both among common people and the nobility. The festival devoted to the goddess was held each year on the 13th of August (“Diana (mythology)” n.pag.). There were also rituals that increase the fertility of women and strength of hunters through offerings to Diana. These celebrations represented freedom and the triumph of femininity.
Romans have adapted the majority of the Greek deities and renamed them to form own pantheon. In fact, Diana was called Artemis among the ancient Greeks (“Diana (mythology)” n.pag.). These two goddesses are almost similar embodying freedom, hunting, childbirth and fertility. They also share the same visual features and aspects of the cult. It is also interesting that Diana has completely inherited her story of birth from Artemis (“Diana (mythology)” n.pag.). She was the daughter of Jupiter and Latona and had a younger twin brother Apollo. She helped her mother give birth to him since patronized the childbirth (“Diana (mythology)” n.pag.).
Being the goddess of the hunt, Diana is strong, enduring and brave, exemplifying the perfect hunter. These traits helped her face difficulties but also sometimes proved harmful and led to the rashness of her actions. At the same time, she has such traits as the love of freedom and compassion that contribute to the protection of common people and childbirth. She is often described as a beautiful young woman dressed in a short tunic and with a bow (“Diana (mythology)” n.pag.). Apart from it, one of her major symbols is a deer that depicts the patronage of wildlife and is connected to the myth of Actaeon (“Diana (mythology)” n.pag.). The moon is also one of the symbols of Diana, signifying the cycle of life and women’s fertility.
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It would be interesting to compare Diana to the Scandinavian deity Freyja. The latter was the goddess of love, childbirth, and war. Such a combination of features could seem strange, but it should be remembered that death and birth are the most important elements of the life cycle. On the one hand, Diana and Freyja represent love, fertility and childbirth, being beautiful women with kind and compassionate hearts. They are also strong and brave, ready to protect people who need their help. On the other hand, Freyja is more warlike and sometimes demands blood sacrifice. She also commands Valkyries and takes the souls of brave fallen warriors to Valhalla. Therefore, it can be stated that both goddesses share the patronage of fertility, childbirth, and freedom while Freyja is more aggressive and prone to rash actions.
It would also be beneficial to analyze a work of art depicting Diana. There is an interesting painting called The Death of Actaeon created by Titian in Mannerism style approximately in 1559 (Graham-Dixon n.pag.). It shows the goddess hunting down Actaeon for witnessing her while she was bathing naked in a pool. The symbolic meaning of the painting contains references to Diana’s cult of hunting and freedom that must be preserved at all cost.
With all of the evidence about the goddess, it can be stated that she represents the archetype of the caregiver with certain elements of the warrior. This can be explained by the patronage of childbirth and people in need combined with the traits of an efficient hunter and the desire for freedom. There is a historical figure that reminds me of Diana, which is Joan of Arc. She fought to free her people from the invaders and overcome the occupation of their native lands. These acts symbolize the desire for freedom and justice combined with helping people in need. Therefore, it can be stated that these two figures have much in common.
In conclusion, it can be stated that the goddess of hunting Diana played a large role in lives of the ancient Roman. She was the patron of the moon, hunt, childbirth and fertility and offered help to disadvantaged people. She was respected by wealthy and poor people, and her festival took place annually on the 13th of August. Her main symbols are a bow, the moon, and a deer. She also affected the development of art later and was depicted by many artists, including Titian.
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